I have a theory that people are either cooks or gardeners first. OK… relax. I’m not saying you can’t DO both. I think everyone has a favorite and my clear winner (because cooking involves cleaning up and gardening, not so much) is to be out in my garden.
I’ve got one word for summer: DAHLIAS
Yup. Dahlias are my favorite flower ever. They come in so many varieties of color, size, shape and petal. Each one is a mini work of art. The names themselves are pure fun; Bodacious, Envy, Freedom Fighter, Maniac, Mango Madness and Cabana Banana, to name just a few. And merely tending to them I find complete zen planting, cutting and arranging. Nature puts me in the right frame of mind: green, sunshine, air, quiet.
My kids and husband call it “Dahlia Mania” and they all roll their eyes when the box of tubers comes each year from Oregon’s Swan Island Dahlia Farm in April.
“You love your flowers more than us, Mom” my kids accused me of once. And there are times it’s true. Flowers don’t talk back or require boundaries and limits. They don’t need balanced meals. They just keep producing beauty.
The first thing I do is plant them in pots to get them started, as they are ultimately bound for my garden up north. Dahlias are not really ideal for pots, so if you can put them straight in the ground, that’s best. Here they are at phase one—just out of my garage. You don’t water at all until the first green shoots sprout through the dirt.
I get them in the ground on Memorial Day and place the stakes near, as I know they will do a lot of growing in a month, but still not produce flowers until mid-July in my hearty North Eastern growing zone. Loving dahlias is about being patient, not about immediate gratification. Their really prolific season is August and September, even into October they produce magnificent blooms until the first frost.
Here they are in the ground. Freed from their pots:
But I was in for a shock when I returned to the cottage at the end of June for the summer… What the ding dang bejesus? Deer had munched my dahlias on the side garden. They’d never done that before. And this created a blood boil.
But the great thing about flowers and plants is that they grow back, kinda like nails and hair. So check this out. A few homemade cages with my wire cutters and voila, flowers on the mend.
And now? The first flowers of the season…..
So wherever you find YOUR zen, at the shore, in the mountains, the lake, or the city, I hope you find it somehow in nature. Here are a few more for you to enjoy and I’ll post some of the photos in my gallery as late summer and fall progresses.